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How to Choose What Type of Window Frames to Buy

Understanding the Difference Between Vinyl, Fiberglass, and Metal-clad Wood Windows

So you have identified that the time has come to replace your windows. It is not hard to tell in weather like this when a window is faulty. Drafts throughout the house, fog and condensation on the inside of the panes … no thank you. I want to be warm for the remainder of winter.So now that you have started researching products available, the question becomes, what type of windows should I buy?

We offer a variety of products from vinyl to fiberglass to metal-clad wood. There are advantages and disadvantages to each. 


Vinyl Windows

Vinyl products are generally the most economical and maintenance-free. Vinyl won’t rot, chip, peel or blister. They are versatile, and durable, able to withstand any kind of weather. They are highly energy efficient.

Vinyl products also have an extremely low hail damage effect due to the material’s durable nature.

Many accessories are available for vinyl products, which makes them ideal for renovation projects and new home builds.

Many Calgarians choose vinyl for its durability, easy installation and variety of shapes, colours and styles available. Products can be custom made for your specifications for no additional cost.

For top quality vinyl, look for window frames with heat-fused joints. They are stronger than mechanically joined frames, providing more durability in climates with variable weather patterns, like Calgary. Additionally, look for interior chambers, which strengthens the frame and improves energy efficiency. 

To summarize, vinyl is:

  • The most economical 
  • Maintenance free 
  • Durable with extremely low hail damage effect 
  • A good choice for renovations or new home builds 
  • Available in a variety of shapes, colours and styles 



Fiberglass Windows

Fiberglass products are exceptionally strong, stable and maintenance-free.

This material is better quality than vinyl, and provides a look of traditional painted wood windows, yet with much greater strength.

Fiberglass is an innovative product, relatively newer to the market. Due to its strong durable nature it is able to hold very large panes of glass, and is highly energy efficient.

The material is also able to withstand Calgary’s variable climate, and with an even lower hail damage effect than vinyl.

The reason for this is because fiberglass is made of tiny glass fibers set in resin so the material expands and contracts very little and at the same rate as glass, which places less stress on the seals increasing the useful life. Fiberglass frames won’t crack from dryness, swelling peeling or warping because of the compositional nature of the material.

In addition, fiberglass frames can be painted, but they do not need to be treated, as a wood frame would, with preservatives to prevent rot or decay. Also, the material will not deteriorate if the paint is scratched.

Fiberglass windows can be custom made to match exact colour and size requirements for your home. This makes the products suitable for window replacement, renovation or custom home build.

Wood interior trim is available in an assortment of options, such as pine, Douglas fir or primed wood. With many of the fiberglass products available the interior wood finish is sleek, with no nail holes or staples making it perfect for staining, sealing and painting. To summarize fiberglass is (has): 

  • A better quality material
  • Higher in cost than vinyl
  • A stronger frame 
  • Better hardware 
  • Even less hail damage 
  • Highly energy efficient 
  • Able to have a wood interior finish


Metal-Clad Wood Windows

Metal-clad wood windows offer the very best quality available. They are a modern design update from traditional wood windows.

Meal-clad wood windows are called such because they are comprised of an exterior metal cladding, and an interior wood finish.

The strong exterior metal cladding eliminates any need for exterior finishing or maintenance. Protective metal cladding has a baked-on finish that doesn’t need to be repainted over time.

The metal exterior is profoundly durable, with heavy, impact resistant aluminum components. High sash thickness provides strength and aesthetics. Mortise-and-tenon joints provide durability.

Integral nailing fin and corner gaskets eliminate risk of water and air infiltration.

Interior wood can be chosen from a variety of wood types, finished or unfinished, paired with an equally extensive option for metal clad colours to match or compliment your home. To summarize metal-clad wood is (has):

  • Very best quality; strength durability and energy efficiency
  • Wood on the inside and a metal clad exterior
  • An elegant appearance
  • A higher price point 

The graph below compares vinyl, fiberglass and metal-clad wood, what they call composite (which can be a variety of product combinations). They also included wood and aluminum. None-the-less the chart provides additional insight into the qualities of the different materials.


Ultimately, if you have any questions about which material to select, consult your Calgary window replacement expert. We are always happy to assist our clients in selecting the product most appropriate for their unique needs and requirements. 


Calgary Replacement Window & Door Reviews

  • It's been 3 years from start to finish working with Old West Windows and Doors to have all windows replaced . They are professional, on time and did first rate work through all aspects. Their crew knows what they are doing, clean up afterwards and are courteous, going the extra mile...

    Rating: 10/10

    Terry - De Winton

  • I waited to write this review to see how the windows & workmanship would be after 1 year of use. The windows are triple low E glazing and frames are fibreglass. Well on a rating of 10, I give 10 for the installation, followup and the product. I would recommend these people to anyone who wants good service who back their products.

    Rating: 10/10

    Carl C.

  • After a competitive evaluation of three potential suppliers we chose Old West Windows and Doors to replace 11 windows in our home. We were very impressed with Rick's knowledge and experience as well as the excellent reviews of his company. Kyle and his crew of installers did a first class professional and timely job taking care to minimize any disruptions.

    Rating: 10/10

    Andrew Dudzinski

  • Great service, great price, professional and knowledgeable installers. Installers worked on an extremely cold January day and took the time to explain how windows work and asked if we had any questions before they left for the day. Will recommend to others and use them again without hesitation for our future window needs.

    Rating: 10/10

    J Kawchuk

  • We have been completely satisfied in dealing with Old West to replace our windows and have had previous windows replaced with them as well. Always efficient and dependable! We love our new windows!!

    Rating: 10/10


  • Service and Quality are what Old West Windows and Doors provided for the installation of 10 windows on our main floor. Now the cold weather has arrived I cannot believe what a difference these new windows make. I found this companies name on Home Stars and they truly deserve the high star rating they presently have.

    Rating: 10/10


  • I couldn't be happier with Old West from start to finish. I had three estimates and Old West was very competitive. What impressed me the most and made me choose Old West was the professionalism and customer service from the first time I called to request an estimate. I'm so glad I chose Old West because of their professionalism and quality of work.

    Rating: 10/10


  • We replaced 5 old windows in our century home with white vinyl casements. Rick was very patient with us as we shopped around and tried to make a decision and always responded to emails quickly. He was also able to speed up the installation with an earlier than planned date and Jeremy and his great team of quiet and tidy installers completed the job in a single day.

    Rating: 10/10


  • We were very pleased with Old West Windows & Door Ltd. right from the start to finish. We can honestly say that our experience with Old West was the most amazing and satisfying contract work we have ever had done. We would recommend Old West to anyone who is contemplating replacing windows in their home.

    Rating: 10/10

    Larry Danderson

  • Very pleased with the entire process! As indicated in previous reviews, Rick is extremely professional and knowledgeable. He works with you to find the best window options that will meet your needs without any sales pressure - incredible that the company owner has such a "hands-on" approach with customers.

    Rating: 10/10

    D Denoon

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Old West Windows & Doors Calgary
(403) 262-3933
#8, 2316 – 27 Avenue NE
Calgary, AB, T2E 7A7

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